Notes from the The BIG G
NOTES + VIDEO FROM THE BIG G COMMUNITY FORUM
If you were not able to attend our 2014 Community Forum on Gentrification, you can watch a Video with Opening Remarks by Garlen Capita, GU Board Chair Followed by the Keynote address by Colvin Grannum, Executive Director of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. We were happy to have Colvin return to this year’s community forum as Bedford Stuyvesant has experienced
Excerpt from Colvin Grannum:
“The only thing that is constant is change.” Heraclitus
By starting this conversation before Gentrification is underway we have the opportunity to institutionalize the “Arts and Culture” of Germantown before it gets diminished by new residents.
In Bed Stuy one way this was done was by “Glory in a Snapshot” a program that took historical photos and agree with new business owners such as “Super Foodtown” a grocery store to permanently display these blown up photos as decorative and informative Art.
Spike Lee in his “I’m gonna kill you now” infamous response to “Gentrification being a good thing” was speaking about culture unique to place being taken out of a place when newcomers can’t relate because it’s not their own experience.
Steve Mullin stated that “Open Markets do what they do; Do we interfere with it?” and spoke of the 1896 “Separate but Equal” Supreme Court Ruling that no longer exists but it is seen in today’s schools by the tax base funding the schools and poorer neighborhoods have schools primarily composed of black students.
Steve Mullin stated “Duh” to the argument that Public Schools are what stops urban neighborhoods from being diverse and economically sustainable. He stated the solution to this lies not in the schools but in Encouraging the government to change policy to create a demand for employment and to not tax businesses that operate in the city so that those businesses move to first ring suburbs.
Nora Lichtash spoke of the need for inclusionary zoning and how at WCRP she figured out the 1 of every 4 pieces of land in her jurisdiction was vacant or abandoned. By utilizing a “Listening Project” she worked with 325 residences to create the idea of a Community Land Trust. This Trust was the idea of taking any publically owned land revitalizing it with new homes that could be purchased by citizens but at time of sale the community gets it back in order to sell it again at an affordable price. The Mayor signed the Land Bank Bill and it is in effect today.
This Land Bank Idea gives GUCDC the example that if one plans ahead they can ultilize public owned property to meet the needs of the community rather than developers “driving the open market”. Three prime commercial buildings that could impact the community and institutionalize the “Arts and Culture” we want to instill in the community are YMCA, Germantown High School, and Town Hall.
Betty Turner, a long time Germantown resident, spoke of the ebbs and flows of Germantown and how she lived in Germantown when it was a thriving clean, active community in the 50s and how she stayed through the bad times and wants to be able stay once it gets revitalized and not get pushed out.
One Community member who is new to the GU board stated in one workshop group, “Don’t Move; Improve.”
Allan Greenberger made an anecdotal example about how government work by talking about how the Streets Department has a limited yearly budget for the city and how this year they are spending 70% of it redoing the corner ADA accessible ramps to meet new standards and applications. He said that even though only a small percentage of the population will be affected by these changes they have the loudest voice so we are complying with their requests.
Meg Sowell, an attendee, stated that when she’s done work with Germantown there are so many loud and disparate voices that it’s hard to get things done because they’re no clear objective due to so many voices speaking at once. She stated that when she did work near LaSalle there was one group that she worked with that got a lot done in part because they used two “Americacore volunteers to do the legwork.” She stated that Germantown United needs to help touch citizens to come together to compromise and rally their voices to meet a few most important issues/wants by not working in silos but working together. She stated GU needs to get Ameriacore volunteers or the like, right away, to help better the independent RCOs to work better and rally together.